Analysis, Spells and Talents
After Mark of the Wild, the Druid damage shield Thorns is probably one of the spells most often complained about:
Let’s take an inventory of all the perceived issues with this spell:
- It doesn’t do enough damage. Some have suggested making it scale with spell damage.
- There’s no group buff version, making it inconvenient to cast. (The idea of making it a group buff is terribad. You’ll see why below.)
- The duration is too short at only 10 minutes, one third the duration of our single-target Mark of the Wild spell.
- It can’t be cast while in Tree of Life.
Optionally, a Druid willing to invest thirteen or more points in the Balance tree can pick up the 3/3 Brambles talent, a talent which increase the damage taken by 75%:
With 3/3 Brambles, that would increase the damage per hit by Thorns to 47. One has to admit that doesn’t sound like a lot when you consider mobs hitting cloth for 4k in some Heroics.
Thorns as AoE Aggro
One often overlooked fact about Thorns is that the aggro generated is on a per mob basis. That means that the total threat per second is multiplied for every mob that’s beating on (but not casting spells upon) a thorned target. Larger pulls means more aggro from Thorns, assuming your tank is able to maintain their attention. At the same time, the threat generated by healing is considered “global threat” or spread among all the mobs on your hate list. I want to reiterate that point since it’s a really important one that many people miss: Threat from healing is distributed evenly among all targets on your hate list. So for every additional mob in your group pull, you’re getting more threat from Thorns and less threat from healing done.
Determining Thorns Threat
To determine the threat of Thorns, both with and without 3/3 Brambles, I’m going to make the following assumptions:
- The mobs attacking the tank hit at a speed of 2.0 or once every two seconds.
- The tank is a Protection-specced Warrior using Defensive Stance and having 3/3 Defiance for a total threat modification of +45%.
- The tank has a combined 35% rate of Dodge + Parry + miss.
The threat per second of Thorns without 3/3 Brambles can therefore be expressed as:
TPS of Thornsw/o Brambles = Threat Multiplier * Thorns DPS * (1 – % Time Thorns Ineffective)
OR 1.45 * (25 dmg/2 sec) * (1 – 0.35) = 11.78 TPS
To calculate this value with the Brambles talent, we simply adjust the damage output per hit of Thorns:
TPS of Thornsw/Brambles = 1.45 * (43.75 dmg/2 sec) * (1 – 0.35) = 20.62 TPS
Not coincidentally, the TPS increase from picking up Brambles is 75%, the same increase to the amount of damage done by each hit.
Notably, a Warrior using chain Thunder Clap will generate around 350 threat every 4 seconds per mob on up to four mobs (discussion via WoWWiki.com). With Thorns + Brambles, you’d be granting him an additional 24% threat on top of that. And don’t forget that the threat generated by Thorns applies to all mobs, not only four.
Determining Lifebloom Threat
Lifebloom is one of our largest and most efficient sources of healing output, and the threat generated from it is both steady and periodic, making it a great source of comparison against the threat generated by Thorns. To determine the threat per second of a triple stack of Lifebloom, I’m going to make the following assumptions:
- None of the healing done is overheal (which does not generate threat).
- The healer has 5/5 Subtlety (-20% threat), 5/5 Empowered Rejuvenation (+15% bonus to the HoT portion), and 5/5 Gift of Nature (+10% to all healing spells).
- The healer has 1650 +Healing.
To easily and quickly determine the scaling of Lifebloom per stack and with the appropriate talents, I compared the total healed per tick with my gear on and without my gear. Both times, I made sure to remove my [Idol of the Emerald Queen] since it affects the periodic healing of Lifebloom. From these two values, I was able to determine the scaling of Lifebloom with talents to be approximately 58.9%:
Healing per Tick0 +Healing = 42.67
Healing per Tick1595 +Healing = 199
Amount Healed from Bonus Healing = +Healing * Coefficient
Coefficient = Amount Healed from Bonus Healing / +Healing
(199 – 43) * 6 / 1595 = 58.9%
From this coefficient, we can determine the total amount healed by the HoT portion of a single Lifebloom application for our assumed 1650 +Healing:
Total Healed by Lifebloom HoT = Base Heal from Lifebloom HoT + (Coefficient * +Healing) = 273 + (0.589 * 1650) = 1246.5
If we divide the total healed by 6 (for the number of times Lifebloom ticks before being refreshed), we find that Lifebloom will heal for 207.8 HP per second:
Healed per Tick = 1246.5 / 6 = 207.8
Since each point of healing is worth half a point of threat, we find that a single application of Lifebloom generates 103.9 Threat per second at our assumed 1650 +Healing. Since we’re assuming the healer is specced for Subtlety, we multiply this value by 80% to get 83.1 TPS per application. Three applications (rolling Lifebloom) means that we multiply this value by 3 to arrive at our final value, 249.3 TPS:
TPS of Lifebloom x 1 = Total Healing Done / 2 = 103.9 TPS
TPS of Lifebloom x 1Subtlety = 103.9 * 0.8 = 83.1
TPS of Lifebloom x 3Subtlety = 83.1 * 3 = 249.3 TPS
Once again, this number assumes that none of the healing done is overhealing. It represents the threat generated each second that is evenly distributed among however many targets are on the healer’s hate list.
TPS of Thorns vs. TPS of Lifebloom x 3
To determine how much of your Lifebloom threat is effectively mitigated by casting Thorns, we can plot these values against the total number of mobs present and affected by Thorns:
From the above graph, note the following:
- At four mobs, casting Thorns and having 3/3 Brambles would effectively “eat” 34% of the threat being generated by a rolling stack of Lifebloom. Without Brambles, it’s only 19%. That’s a 14.2% increase to the amount of threat countered from Brambles alone.
- At five mobs, the amount of threat countered by Thorns + Brambles jumps to 41%. Without Brambles, it’s only 24%. That’s a 17.7% increase to the amount of threat countered from Brambles alone.
Note: While this graph assumes that no mobs present are crowd controlled and therefore all are being affected by Thorns you can determine the adjusted TPS being generated by Thorns by sliding to the left along the x-axis a number of units equal to the number of mobs being crowd controlled. Healing aggro, unfortunately, remains the same.
Thorns is not worthless. For 400 mana spent outside of combat, you effectively give your tank a cushion for aggro, allowing him to continue building threat on mobs he isn’t even focused on. And if you’re going to be spending the points in the Balance tree to pick up Insect Swarm anyway, you should consider the value of Brambles, especially if you frequently run instances (multi-mob pulls are less of an issue in raids). And no, you don’t want a group version of Thorns. Except maybe for Arenas. And only if it didn’t consume another costly reagent.
P.S. For a bit of fun, I went ahead and extrapolated the number of mobs necessary to counteract all of the TPS generated by a triple-stack of Lifebloom. It’s 12 with Brambles and 21 without. So feel free to link this article the next time you accidentally aggro say … 2-4 additional groups!
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